BP has delayed a test of a containment cap intended to halt the oil gushing in the Gulf of Mexico. The cap’s installation this week had raised hopes of a temporary halt to the gusher until the breached well could be plugged underground. But BP and federal officials now say the testing needs to be put on hold pending further analysis. On Tuesday, National Incident Commander Thad Allen discussed the challenges ahead even if the spill can be contained.
Adm. Thad Allen: “Even if we contain the well and even if the well is capped in mid-August, there is still a significant amount of oil out there, and the oil recovery and the impacts of this oil will probably extend well into the fall in terms of oil coming to shore, tar balls, beach cleanup. And then we will be moving, of course, at that point with a natural resources damage assessment, trying to understand the long-term environmental and ecological impact of the event.”
The investigative news website ProPublica, meanwhile, has published photographs of oil spill cleanup workers in Galveston, Texas working without protective gear. The photographs show the workers cleaning potentially oiled debris on beaches without coveralls, rubber boots, and even gloves.
The Senate is expected to vote on a final version of the financial reform bill on Thursday after appearing to win enough votes to overcome a Republican filibuster. On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska announced he’ll support the bill, one day after Republicans Olympia Snowe of Maine and Scott Brown of Massachusetts announced they’d vote with the Democratic majority. President Obama welcomed the news at the White House.
President Obama: “What members of both parties realize is that we can’t allow a financial crisis like this one that we just went through to happen again. This reform will prevent that from happening. It will prevent a financial crisis like this from happening again, by protecting consumers against the unfair practices of credit card companies and mortgage lenders. It will ensure that taxpayers are never again on the hook for Wall Street’s mistakes. And it will end an era of irresponsibility that led to the loss of eight million jobs and trillions of dollars of wealth.”
The Israeli military has reportedly blocked a Libyan aid ship from reaching the Gaza Strip. The ship set sail from Greece last week carrying over 2,000 tons of aid in an attempt to break the Israeli naval blockade. But as many as eight Israeli vessels have surrounded it as it approached Gaza. According to reports, the ship is now headed to the Egyptian port of El Arish.
The Israeli government has resumed destroying Palestinian homes after a brief freeze. On Tuesday, Israeli bulldozers razed six Palestinian-owned buildings in Jerusalem, including three homes. Israel had informally suspended the demolitions in October following criticism from the United States. The resumed demolitions come just days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned from the United States after meeting President Obama at the White House. Obama had praised Netanyahu during the talks, saying the Israeli government has shown “restraint.” Standing outside of her demolished home, Jerusalem resident Linda al-Rajabi said she and her five children were forced out with no advance warning.
Linda al-Rajabi: “They emptied the house. They made me take out everything. And then, as you see, they demolished the house without giving a warning or anything. They can build 600 settlements, but I am in a shack made from asbestos, and they demolish it. All I have is children, five small ones, and their father, who sometimes works and sometimes does not.”
The demolitions coincided with the Israeli government’s approval of plans to build thirty-two new settlement homes in East Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, in the Gaza Strip a Palestinian woman was killed and four other Palestinians seriously wounded Tuesday in an Israeli shelling of the village of Johar a-Deek.
The Israeli parliament meanwhile has approved an unprecedented crackdown on an Arab-Israeli lawmaker who took part in the Gaza-bound aid flotilla assaulted by Israeli forces earlier this year. The lawmaker, Hanin Zoabi, was aboard the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the flotilla where Israeli troops killed nine passengers. On Tuesday, the Israeli parliament voted to remove Zoabi’s diplomatic passport and bar her from foreign travel. Zoabi defended herself in a speech from the Knesset floor.
Hanin Zoabi: “You don’t need to protect democracy from me. You need to defend me for the sake of democracy. You are punishing me to get revenge on me, and that is what should be stopped. I did not join the flotilla in order to place a siege on Tel Aviv. I sailed, and nine people were killed, because they fought for the freedom of Gaza.”
In Afghanistan, three British troops have been killed and four others wounded in a surprise attack from an Afghan soldier. It was at least the second time in eight months that an Afghan has opened fire on British counterparts.
A missing Iranian nuclear scientist who surfaced in Washington this week is now claiming he was kidnapped by the United States. The scientist, Shahram Amiri, disappeared during a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia a year ago. His whereabouts had been a mystery until he appeared Monday at the Pakistani embassy in Washington asking for assistance to return home to Iran. On Tuesday, Amiri said he was abducted by CIA and Saudi Arabian intelligence agents and held in Arizona for most of the time since his disappearance. Government officials say Amiri in fact defected to the US and has provided valuable intelligence about Iran’s nuclear activities, but is now seeking to return to Iran out of concern for his family there. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Amiri is free to leave the US, in contrast to Americans jailed in Iran.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “First, let me say that Mr. Amiri has been in the United States of his own free will, and he is free to go. In fact, he was scheduled to travel to Iran yesterday but was unable to make all of the necessary arrangements to reach Iran through transit countries. In contrast, Iran continues to hold three young Americans against their will, and we reiterate our request that they be released and allowed to return to their families on a humanitarian basis. And we also continue to have no information in the welfare and whereabouts of Robert Levinson, who has been missing in Iran since 2007.”
The Iranian government says Amiri is now on his way back to Iran.
In media news, a federal appeals court has struck down the Federal Communications Commission’s rules on the use of vulgar words over the airwaves. The nation’s four main television networks have sought to block the FCC’s expanded enforcement of the indecency law on so-called “fleeting expletives.” On Tuesday, the three-judge panel of the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals called the policy “unconstitutionally vague” and arbitrary.
And the Justice Department has indicted six current and former New Orleans police officers for their role in the Danziger Bridge shootings and subsequent cover-up. Just days after Hurricane Katrina, a group of officers shot six people, killing two. The slain victims, forty-two-year-old Ronald Madison and nineteen-year-old James Brissette, had been searching for food. Madison, who was mentally handicapped, was shot seven times, five in his back. Attorney General Eric Holder helped unveil the charges Tuesday in New Orleans.
Attorney General Eric Holder: “The Justice Department will hold those who violate the law responsible for their actions. Put simply, we will not tolerate wrongdoing by those who are sworn to protect the public. This will not stand, and we’ll hold all offenders accountable.”
Four of the officers could face the death penalty on charges centered around the two deaths. Two other officers were charged solely for their role in the cover-up.